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Hillsborough deputies hope to deter crime with two-day sweep

PALM RIVER — Deputy Benjamin Kenney drove slowly in his marked cruiser, pointing out positives along 58th Street. There's a Little League complex, a county park and a woman quietly raking her yard in the noon heat.

But less than a block down the road is what Kenney calls a notorious "dope hole."

"Everybody knows it," he said. "We work the corner. We try to get them all locked up … but they keep coming back."

In an effort to deter crime and remind the public of its presence, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office on Monday launched "Operation Clean Sweep" in the Palm River and Clair-Mel communities. The area had a 4.8 percent crime increase in 2009, according to statistics released by the Sheriff's Office.

By 3 p.m. Monday, deputies checked up on 31 sexual offenders and predators who live in the area, making sure their addresses are up to date. They made surprise visits to about 30 people on probation, including juveniles.

"(We're) reminding them that just because school is out it doesn't mean that they get a vacation," said Kenney, the Palm River community resource deputy. "We're going to keep an eye on them, make sure that they know that we know they're there."

Code Enforcement is also pitching in on the two-day sweep. Enforcers will address overflowing trash bins and abandoned homes with broken widows or wild yards, sheriff's officials said.

"It's not just criminal (issues)," said Deputy Larry McKinnon, a sheriff's spokesman. "It's those small quality-of-life issues."

The only arrests were of people with warrants, one on felony charges and three on misdemeanors. Deputies had more traffic units monitoring busy roads. More than 50 people were pulled over; 45 citations were written.

The sweep continues Tuesday.

Times staff writer Shelley Rossetter contributed to this report. Kevin Smetana can be reached at or (813) 661-2439.

Get involved

Find out more about "Operation Clean Sweep" or voice your concerns to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office at a Greater Palm River Civic Association meeting. The meeting is at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at First Baptist Church of Palm River, 5415 Palm River Road.

Hillsborough deputies hope to deter crime with two-day sweep 06/14/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 16, 2010 6:04pm]
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